Train up a Child … 

   Written by on November 20, 2014 at 1:00 pm

When I was growing up Art Linkletter’s TV program Kids Say The Darndest Things was one of my Grandmom’s favorite shows.  On this show, Mr. Linkletter would interview kids and get them to say “the darndest things.”  Now, I was one of six siblings who often said “funny things” at inappropriate times; knowing this made me wonder why Grandmom loved to watch this show.  Maybe, it was just to see other people’s kids saying embarrassing things.

gowinAll parents have been in a situation where little Janie runs into the room and says something embarrassing like, “Mommy is wearing a hat today because her hair turned green when she tried to hide her gray hairs with yellow food coloring.”  Everyone just laughs.  Although, what happens when Janie, instead of saying something funny, uses a string of four letter words?  Now, that creates a parenting situation that is more shock than funny.  The most common response to this situation is “Where did you learn to talk like that?”  No one in the room wants Janie to look at them.  You might even be hoping that Janie does not turn your way.

A very familiar Bible verse starts with the phrase “train up a child.”  When you hear this verse, what do you think “train” means?  It is interesting that the Hebrew word used in this verse is Chanak, which means, first, to put something into the mouth, and a second meaning is to give elementary instruction.  Does this mean that the first step in training our children is to be aware of what we put in their mouth?

How many times have you seen a child gesture just like their Mom or Dad?  Certainly, you can recognize family speech patterns and accents.  In my family, we grew up using the phrase “Uff Da” when things did not go right.  You can tell I did not grow up in the South.  My parents and grandparents (and the other Danes in our little town) used this phrase frequently.  We copied our parent’s behavior.  Guaranteed, your kids copy you, which can be funny and cute.  For example, it is cute when your two-year- old pushes a play vacuum cleaner behind Mom or a plastic lawn mower alongside Dad in the lawn.  What’s my point?  Your kids are always watching; your speech and behavior should only be acts that you are ok with them repeating in public.  Because they will.

The best way to train your children is by modeling the behavior you want them to repeat.  By putting the words in their ears and mouth, that you want to hear repeated in front of your pastor or in public.  To put it another way, a good role model avoids doing or saying things that need not be repeated in the checkout line at Walmart.  Also, be careful when you are joking, your kids may get confused with what is a joke and what is just bad behavior.

In addition to modeling good behavior and speech, there are several other aspects to being a good role model.  A good role model also acknowledges that all make mistakes and part of being a responsible grown-up is being able to say I’m sorry as well as being able to forgive.  Be sure you talk with your children about what words are acceptable and unacceptable.  Let them ask why and explain why.  Include your friends and other family members in being a good role model by asking them to respect your boundaries for behavior.  Look to others for their reactions to your behaviors.  If a close friend frowns at your actions, it may be time to think about a change before you see your son acting the same way at school.  Moreover, if you are the best friend, remember you too are a role model to the children around you.

Yes, being a role model is part of the continuous teaching process that is required to …

Train up a child in the way he should go. (NKJV) Proverbs 22:6a

About Cheryl & Dennis Gowin

Cheryl Gowin, Counselor and Dennis Gowin, Director of Discovery Counseling Center. Contact us with your feedback, comments, issues or questions at 434-808-2426 or


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